Gov. Laura Kelly seeks public input on wildfire prevention and response

Gov. Laura Kelly called on Kansans to share their thoughts on how the state of Kansas can better prevent, respond to, and recover from wildfires. The Governor’s Wildfire Task Force, established by Kelly this past July, is seeking public input as it takes a comprehensive look at mitigating wildfire threats, reviews how local and state officials respond to such emergencies, and considers how to better support communities impacted by wildfires.

“Wildfires take a devastating toll on Kansas families and businesses, which is why we want to hear directly from the people most impacted by these disasters,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “If you have thoughts on how our state can prevent or better prepare for future disasters, please let the Wildfire Task Force know. Together, we will continue working to protect our first responders, our farmers and ranchers, and our communities.”

The Governor’s Wildfire Task Force was founded in the wake of Kansas experiencing several large-scale wildfires. Over the last five years, the Kansas State Fire Marshal has received reports of an average of 6,000-plus wildland fires each year. Since 2016, the state has experienced three large wildfires that burned over 800,000 acres.

The Task Force is led by Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam and includes bipartisan representatives from local, state, and federal agencies and organizations. The group has met several times since its creation.

“Reducing the fuel load to mitigate the risk of large-scale wildfires is a high priority; it will involve many partners and may look not look the same across the state, as different regions have different needs and challenges,” Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam, Chair of the Task Force, said. “We have been engaged in extended discussions about the critical impact of wildland fires and look forward to input from the public on these issues.”

Public input can be submitted on the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s website at Submissions can be made through the end of November.